Record Review with Kevin Bryan

Here are the latest set of record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Sarah Jarosz, Undercurrent (Sugar Hill Records).­ This is the first album that Grammy-nominated acoustic balladeer Sarah Jarosz has released since graduating with honours from the New England Conservatory of Music, and the richly rewarding contents provide an ideal vehicle for her instrumental prowess and insightful songwriting style.

Sarah took a break from her timeless touring schedule to assemble Undercurrent and the finished product must rank as the talented Texan’s most accomplished offering to date, liberally peppered with fine self­-penned songs such as Early Morning Light, Take Another Turn and Jacqueline.

J.S.Bach : The Flute Sonatas (CRD Records).­ This excellent chamber music recital first saw the light of day in 1997 and explores the intricate delights of Bach’s writing for the transverse flute.

Soloist Stephen Preston joined forces with harpsichord specialist Trevor Pinnock and Viola da Gamba player Jordi Savall to perform six sonatas from the very early years of the instrument’s development, and the exquisitely crafted results should be required listening for Bach devotees everywhere, although some doubt still remains about the authorship of two of the works featured here.

David McWilliams, Lord Offaly (Cherry Red / Esoteric).­ David McWilliams has tended to be dismissed as a one­-hit wonder on the strength of his solitary singles success in 1967 with the quirkily memorable Days of Pearly Spencer, but the gifted Irish musician’s album output always repays closer investigation and this 1972 long­player is a particularly impressive piece of work.

McWilliams was at his most compelling when delivering epic historical narratives such as Blind Men’s Stepping Stones and Lord Offaly, which relates the tragic tale of Thomas Fitzgerald,the 10th Earl of Kildare,who was put to death in 1537 after leading a rebellion against the rule of King Henry VIII. Splendid stuff.

Jacob Cordover, Expressivo (Cala Records).­ Jacob Cordover’s latest Cala collection finds the Australian classical guitarist applying his impeccable instrumental technique to a series of evocative pieces penned by many of the leading lights of the genre, including Albeniz, Tarrega and Heitor Villa-­Lobos. This wide­-ranging exercise in technical artistry closes with arrangements for solo guitar of three classic popular songs, Gershwin’s Summertime, Hoagy Carmichael’s Georgia On My Mind and the bittersweet melody which Paul McCartney penned for his then-girlfriend Jane Asher half a century ago, Here, There and Everywhere.